Even though our Founding Fathers weren’t all orthodox Christians, they understood the importance of recognizing that we had a Creator who had “endowed [us] … with certain unalienable Rights.” And they expressed it that way in the Declaration of Independence to show that King George III wasn’t just denying them the privileges a government ought to afford them in the 18th century, but was actually standing between the colonists and their Creator. We see this spelled out clearly in Thomas Jefferson’s words: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not violated but with his wrath?”
An equally valid way to look at this is to notice that the tyrant who stands between men and the rights with which they are endowed actually stands between them and their humanity: for what are those rights except an expression of their humanity? This means that when King George III stationed his soldiers in the colonists’ homes and forced the colonists to use their fodder for the king’s horses, he denied the colonists the right to possess their own things and to do with those things as they saw fit.
Our Founding Fathers tried to protect us from such a travesty occurring again when they hedged in our right to property and security in our persons via the Third and Fourth Amendments:
Third Amendment: “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probably cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
And although King George III is long gone, the threat our humanity faces via presidents, legislators, and justices who overreach their proper bounds is not. So the amendments that hedge in the expressions of our humanity contained in our God-given rights remain as viable and as important as ever. And this is particularly true concerning our right to keep and bear arms:
Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
A denial of our God-given right to arm and defend ourselves is perhaps the quintessential denial of our humanity. This applies not only to outright gun bans, but also to the burdensome waiting periods that some force us to observe before getting the guns we need to protect our lives.
For example, imagine a woman who lives alone and who is being stalked by an old boyfriend, an ex-husband or a sexual predator. Imagine her in a city (like Chicago) or a state (like California) where there are de jure gun bans or, via the burdensome paperwork requirements, de facto ones. Thus the locks on her doors and the knives in her kitchen constitute her only line of defense. Now, imagine the relief the stalker feels when he breaks into her home at night and finds that while she puts up a fight physically, she is easy to overpower and has no serious weapons with which to defend herself. So he has his way with her and then leaves.
Days later he thinks of how easy it was and he returns again. She tries to fight him off again but he easily overpowers her. Soon, he doesn’t wait days to come back, but returns within hours. He has his way with her each time, and each time she feels less and less like a human and more and more like a dog. She has literally been denied full access to her own humanity by a governing body that refuses to allow her to exercise her God-given right to self-defense.
The Founding Fathers would rather that she pulled a Smith & Wesson .38 Special from under her bed and dropped the intruder in his tracks once he breached her front door. In this scenario, the ability to use lethal force would be a testimony both to the value of her life and the dignity her humanity.
AWR Hawkins is a conservative columnist who has written extensively on political issues for HumanEvents.com, Pajamas Media, Townhall.com, and Andrew Breitbart’s BigPeace.com, BigHollywood.com, BigGovernment.com, and BigJournalism.com. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. military history from Texas Tech University, and was a visiting fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in the summer of 2010. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.